Book Title: When Heaven Strikes
Author: F. E. Feeley Jr.
Cover Artist: Goonwrite.com
Genre/s: Contemporary Romance, gay literature
Length: Words: 60,400/No. of Pages: 298
“He was scared. “Grandma, what’s wrong?” “Thunderstorm, baby. Hang on,” she said to him, and then to his mother, whom he just spotted to their left, “Where’s the car?” “At the front of the lot. We were one of the first ones here this morning,” Ann said as she worked to keep up in her flip-flops. On the water, he saw his yellow bucket floating bottom down. It was spinning hypnotically, but it was when Anderson looked skyward he found himself becoming terrified. Above the lake, the sky had turned a sickly green. The clouds directly above it and moving in closer were swirling in a tight formation with what looked like a big black eye staring down at them. “Grandma! What’s that?” Anderson exclaimed pointing skyward. She stopped and turned to look.” “Oh, my God,” she breathed, mostly to herself. Anderson felt panic begin to set it. Someone shouted close to them, “Jesus Christ! It’s a tornado!”
“No. This isn’t some romance novel where there has to be an attraction, the hookup, an antagonistic split, followed by the inevitable swelling of a symphony as the two characters get back together.”
I copied the above quote from about half way through the story because it gives a very good and fair representation of what this book is. While there is plenty of drama in this story, it isn’t provided by the developing relationship between Ted and Anderson. In fact, the romance between Ted and Anderson is so fluid and easy, both men move from the need to take it slow to full steam ahead without so much as a conscious thought, and it’s all the more glorious for it. That’s not to say that Ted and Anderson don’t have their issues, but more that they are able to have those work for them rather than against their developing feelings and relationship.
No, while When Heaven Strikes tells a charming and heartwarming romantic tale, for me that wasn’t the ultimate message of this book. You see, while Ted and Anderson are the two romantic protagonists in this story, they’re not the only main characters. Josiah and his preacher father Jeff may play only a small — be it rather pivotal — part in the first half of the story, in the second part their personal form of hell bursts to life, affecting all others in its path too.
And yes, in this case I feel ‘hell’ is exactly the right word to use. Jeff, for all his religious fervour not only lives in his own private hell, he’s also created a hell for his wife and sons to live in.
When a monster of a tornado hits town it literally is as if the forces of heaven have descended to write the wrongs and clear the playing field. And I don’t really want to say a whole lot more about that except to mention that I was surprised and grateful that the outcome was nothing like what I at first assumed it would be. And I do love it when an author manages to surprise me.
So yes, When Heaven Strikes is a most wonderful love story. But it is so much more than that. It’s a story about faith — in (a) God, in yourself and in each other. It’s a story about family and loyalty and perseverance even against the odds. It is also beautifully written, poetic even. The descriptions are vivid and the words used were obviously chosen with great love and care. In short, When Heaven Strikes is a beautiful and memorable book, one that I found almost impossible to put down. I highly recommend it.
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